Bok tormentor made a ninja master

 Ayumu Goromaru (Getty Images)
Ayumu Goromaru (Getty Images)

Tokyo - Japanese rugby pin-up Ayumu Goromaru, one of the stars of the Rugby World Cup, is set to strike fear into opponents after being made a certified "Master of Ninjas."

The Japan Ninja Council said it awarded him the honour on Wednesday because the fullback's kicking pose - hands clasped together, index fingers pointing upwards and slightly squatting - evoked images of the ancient stealth warriors.

The 29-year-old played a key role as Japan's Brave Blossoms upset the odds by posting three wins at the recent World Cup in England, including a stunning 34-32 victory over the Springboks in their opening game.

Goromaru's talismanic kicking helped elevate him to hero status at home after further victories over Samoa and the United States, as Japan narrowly missed out on a place in the quarter-finals.

"I'm glad to be awarded the title of ninja at a time when Japanese rugby players are earning attention from overseas," said Goromaru, who will play for the Reds when the new Super Rugby season begins in February.

"At the World Cup, we tried to give ourselves ninja bodies to take on the world," he told NHK television. "I'd like to be able to transform my body so I can move like a ninja."

Ninjas were covert agents in feudal Japan, skilled in espionage, sabotage, guerrilla warfare and assassination.

It is not the first honour for Goromaru since he rocketed to mega-stardom in Japan.

A life-size bronze statue of the player was unveiled in Tokyo last month as part of the city's Christmas illuminations, while a baby giraffe at a zoo in Shizuoka prefecture was named after him.

His fans have also flocked to a three metre high Buddhist statue at a temple in Gifu Prefecture because its hands look like those of their hero.

loading... Live
England 92/4 (28 ov)
Pakistan 326
loading... Live
England 92/4 (28 ov)
Pakistan 326
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
44% - 5679 votes
11% - 1403 votes
19% - 2381 votes
2% - 290 votes
1% - 112 votes
2% - 287 votes
5% - 628 votes
8% - 1012 votes
3% - 401 votes
Water sports
1% - 111 votes
American sports
1% - 124 votes
3% - 365 votes